Tips for writing your own novel (interview)

Alan Watson’s debut novel Hidden Assets has been released on Amazon and it us a thrilling romp into the world of hackers, satellites, and enigmatic neighbours. We caught up with Alan and posed him a few questions regarding the book:

alan-watson author on Biz-find

Alan Watson Interview

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I have a great deal of financial and travel experience. My firm; Studio Financial, has been in existence since 1990, so imagine the characters/investors I have met up with during those years! Have lived in Germany, Holland, France, so basically a well-travelled European type. Before this I lived in the Middle East, Bahrain, Oman, Emirates, Saudi, (such places also feature in my next book, a sequel. )
The Chateau featured on the books front cover is where we live, that provides a great deal of inspiration alone, when you consider the French Alp’s are literally one hour up the road, some of the world’s best ski stations, Megeve, Val-d’Isère, and the south of France four hours to the south, Geneva also one hour to the north, you can imagine I am sitting here surrounded by some serious book content.

Hidden Assets by Alan Watson

The chateau

Our neighbours are a typically bizarre collection of French-only-types. The 90 year old war hero who is married but having an affair with a much younger woman here, the man is a machine! The misery who loves to start a legal process against his neighbours for the flimsiest of reasons, “somebody cut the hedge!!” You know the direction here… Well I sat on the balcony one day and decided to write a book about these quirky people, but luckily had the good fortune to speak with an old publishing friend in Belgium before I took things too far. He was clear, “Alan, if you think you can write better than Peter Mayle, well Alan, don’t you think the strange habits of the Frenchman next door has been done enough already? He was right, so I immediately decided to go for a thriller based around where we live. Fill a Chateau up with some reasonably wealthy types, never forgetting the sneaky Frenchman, (even French film directors, the TAKEN man Luke Besson always includes an untrustworthy French character,) and the sexy babes; Make a financial situation, the evil tax office the primary and serious problem for the good people, throw in a Swiss Billionaire and the plot is set up. I found the writing pretty easy, yes Jack Rafter is close to home ! And I am blessed with an active and creative imagination; the writing flowed along from my personal experiences.   

How well do you relate to the heroes and the villains?

I guess Jack Rafter has a lot of Alan Watson about him. Arno Van Bommel is a typical brash, loudmouthed Dutchman, seen plenty of those during my years in Holland. Gerard Crappy, unfortunately I have seen the ugly side of French accounting, they charge massive sums simply for collecting on behalf of the French social system, and good advice does not exist, so a greedy one who steals from his big boss does not stretch the imagination too far. Lasalle, tried to create a character around a Robert Maxwell-Phillip Green type profile. They love their toys, need to be respected, but when the business begins to struggle they will go to any lengths to survive, people become pawns, dirty deals are the order of the day.  
If you were a billionaire what would you do different to Harvey Laselle?

I find this a tricky question; if you have been used to the good things in life since you were born, have to report to shareholders, and suddenly your businesses begin to dissolve rapidly, how far would a person go to survive? The route Lasalle takes is well calculated and I believe a realistic situation, these days we often hear about the tax office paying for information leading to the conviction of evaders. Personally I would sell off the many assets his companies have built up over the years. The office block in Geneva alone would be worth a fortune, (especially looking at the financial power-property prices in Geneva these days.) Head south and enjoy my Benetti. As I said earlier with the modern media love of getting to the bottom of things it would only be a matter of time before they caught up with him.

Do you think technology will eventually benefit mankind or destroy us

technology shifts on Biz-find

technology shifts on Biz-find

As the books readers discover, in the hands of the wrong people Technology can be a nightmare if used against you. I think it will always be a 50-50 situation. Many people will enjoy and benefit, use tech to build their business, keep families together from other sides of the planet, plus give a useful edge should say an emergency arrive. However the other 50% will develop stress problems, abuse the type of access it grants you, and no doubt cause anything from divorces to revenge porn type attacks; In general I believe the greatest problem is the pace at which it develops, we humans do not evolve so quickly. Old people have no idea, young people are addicted, and the builders of such tech make darn sure we can’t live without it; it’s going to be a strength or character issue, like I said 50% will gain and 50% will suffer the fallout.
What advice would you give to younger struggling writers?

Love this question, as I consider myself a fairly aggressive sales and marketing guy. Simply go for every promotion opportunity you see, and more! Recently on holiday I heard a guy speaking English and reading a book across the hotel pool, I always go away armed with many copies, so gave him my book. The next morning he asked me about the characters and told me he was enjoying the story, could not put it down, a review has been promised. Get reviews, as many as you can, it gives your book credibility, particularly if you can get reviewed by known magazines that can relate to your book. I have been reviewed by the likes of French property news, Riviera reporter, ( both are full of French content and read by lovers of France, like Hidden Assets,) also Global Living, a US publication, that’s a market all new authors would love to get known in. Believe in the quality of your story and work, if you don’t, stop now. I am certain Hidden Assets could be turned into a super film, yes believe so far in your efforts, if you don’t, why would others? I knew from the first page that Hidden Assets was a great story, modern, finance related, what is not in our dynamic world ? Solid interesting characters and world renowned locations. Despite spending many many hours on amazon and dozens of other sites I cannot find a story like mine, seems no other author has used the idea of a tax office attack. Create something different, not yet another tough guy detective who lives outside of the rules.

tips for being an author on Biz-find

tips for being an author

Don’t be afraid to use unusual names for characters, people remember them; Work hard on every chapter, keep the reader turning pages, one or two exciting chapters in a 30 chapter book will put your reader to sleep, they will skip pages-chapters looking for the next exciting bit, try to make every chapter end with a, ” what the hell can they do to escape, who else knows this, what if, ” type clue. And do your research, even for the likes of J Grisham, he happily admits he dislikes doing it, but sadly we live in a world of picky, small print loving people, it’s guaranteed if you lose track of the days, (she died on Friday morning, chapters later, she died on Monday morning,) some eagle eyed detective will spot it and tell the world. If you need to detail a place or restaurant in Paris, spend the time to get it right; Your readers will love the experience a book gives them, but treat them with respect, when they start asking, “when is the next book out?” You’re on the way.  

You can purchase your copy of Hidden Assets here

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